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Always a Mother

May 14, 2014

Tags: handwriting, mother, knot

When you come to the end of your rope, make a knot and hang on
Some months ago, I was engaged in clearing out my mother's apartment. Sitting gloomily in a semi-empty apartment on the best chair I could find, my back to the bookcases, where the sight of the empty shelves was like a knife to the soul, I had a thick pile of papers on my lap and a large garbage bag open at my feet. I had been working for a few hours and was feeling exhausted.
My brother and sister-in-law came by, and began sifting through some piles of their own. I rubbed my temples to clear out the incipient headache that was taking up residence there, and I muttered with a huge sigh, "I'm so exhausted. I'm at the end of my rope." My brother and sister-in-law made sympathetic noises and continued their work, and I glanced down again at the papers on my lap. Another for the garbage. I slid the sheet of paper expertly into the bag yawning at my feet and went to lift the next one, a small sheet of yellowing paper, torn at the top, with my mother's handwriting on it and what looked like a squiggle below. I read it, gasped, jumped to my feet, waving it in the air, unable to speak. When I got their attention, I showed it to my brother and sister-in-law, who both exclaimed in disbelief. In my mother's distinctive hand the paper read:
When you come to the end of your rope, make a knot and hang on!"
The squiggle below was a quick sketch of a piece of knotted rope.
My sister-in-law whispered in awe, "She answered you. She's here with us."
My mother had died a month earlier.
In my mind, I heard her voice clearly, as I stared at the piece of paper shaking in my shaking hand, and I knew these were the words she would have said. She had little patience for the faint of heart. I stretched, straightened my back, and went on with the sorting, glad that I had witnesses to such an unfathomable moment.
The piece of paper with her message sits on my desk and urges me forward with my life.
She is gone, but I know she will always manage somehow to tell me what I need to hear.


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